Beyond Buildings: Saïd Mneimné’s Call for Legislative Action in Real Estate

Saïd Mneimné | Senior Vice President | Hill International
Saïd Mneimné | Senior Vice President | Hill International

Saïd Mneimné, the Senior Vice President at Hill International is a visionary professional with a wealth of skills and an extensive track record in the intricate world of real estate development. Where complex projects demand a deft touch, Saïd is a maestro in managing success through diversified talents.

Navigating the intricacies of project management, Saïd brings forth a kaleidoscope of expertise—project planning, business strategy, negotiation, problem-solving, and team management. But his prowess extends beyond the boardroom—it’s a fusion of strategic planning, business analysis and technical training that sets him apart.

In the realm of specific skills, Saïd’s expertise broadens. He is an adept navigator in property development, a visionary in land use planning and a craftsman in infrastructure engineering. From the blueprint to the finished product, his influence resonates in architecture, interior design, construction, and the complexities of project and construction management.

Saïd isn’t confined to the project space—his proficiency sprawls into contract administration, operations management, and budget planning. Saïd is a trailblazer in organic business growth, a steward of change management and a sculptor of staff development. Performance and quality standards are his benchmarks, and customer satisfaction is not just a metric but a living example of his leadership performance.

Let’s explore how Saïd brings a personalized touch to every project, infusing it with a blend of expertise, strategic vision and a commitment to excellence!

Resilience and Reinvention

In 1986, Saïd—a young professional embarked on a journey in real estate development in Dublin, Ohio, USA. Saïd, now an industry veteran, recalls those early days, “Reviewing engineering and infrastructure plans for small subdivisions around a golf course was my initiation into this dynamic field.” The task was monumental, encompassing over 40 subdivision plans to ensure compliance with city by-laws. Following this meticulous review, the individual diligently inspected the works ensuring they adhered to the approved plans.

The journey continued in the late 80s when the professional settled in the Region of York in the Povince of Ontario, Canada. Undeterred by challenges, they persisted in the same line of work, now under the mentorship of the senior partner of a regional consultant firm. This phase came to an unexpected halt due to the 1992 real estate market crash in North America. “Losing my job during the market crash was a turning point. It led me to establish my own engineering consulting firm in 1992,” says Saïd being a resilient individual. Armed with a Professional Engineer and a Consulting Engineer license in the Province of Ontario.  S.A. MNEIMNE & Associates provided services to private real estate developers for five years.

In 1997, the journey took an international turn as Parsons Corporation recruited Saïd. “Joining Parsons was a game-changer. I began as an Assistant Resident Engineer in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, working on infrastructure projects for major housing developments,” shares the seasoned professional. The role evolved into that of a Seller-Doer Project Manager, contributing to prominent plans like the Dubai 2025 Structural Master Plan and the Emirates Hill Land Use and Infrastructure Master Plans. Subsequently, Saïd led the preparation of crucial plans for the Palm Jumeirah Project showcasing his expertise in Front-End Engineering Design (FEED) for marine works, roads and infrastructure services.

Transitioning from Parsons to Hill International in 2002 marked a pivotal moment in his career. “Becoming the ME Regional Vice President allowed me to lead the win of the Hamad Medical City project in Doha, Qatar, a significant development for the 2006 Asian Games housing complex,” states Saïd. This role involved a relocation to Doha and establishing operations for Hill in Qatar.

Returning to Dubai in 2004, he co-set up Asteco Development Management LLC (ADM) as CEO and Managing Director. “ADM managed the development of an AED 10 billion mixed-use portfolio including residential apartments, 5-star hotels and office buildings across iconic locations,” Saïd notes. The team comprised 47 multi-disciplinary professionals from 27 nationalities.

The narrative then shifts to the challenges posed by the 2008 financial crisis. “Joining a listed investment group in India as President of the Real Estate Business Unit allowed me to navigate the crisis strategically,” he recalls. The decision to invest and develop properties in Melbourne, Australia, proved wise. By 2010, Saïd had relocated to Melbourne, invested personal funds and successfully developed five prime-location properties.

In 2013, his journey took an unexpected turn with an investment in a Geneva-based architecture firm, eventually leading to its acquisition in 2014. “Restructuring and rebranding SC Design Plus SA was a fulfilling endeavor, offering architecture and interior design services across Western Europe, North Asia, India, and the UAE,” he shares.

The journey came full circle in early-2018 as Saïd rejoined Hill International. “Returning to Hill was like coming home. Leading the company’s growth in the Asia Pacific market has been a rewarding experience,” he expresses. The focus is now on providing project management and construction management services for large-scale developments, spanning residential and commercial projects, R&D campuses, railway systems, mass transport, and airports.

As the narrative unfolds, it becomes evident that Saïd’s journey is not just a chronological sequence of events but a living example of resilience, adaptability and a relentless pursuit of excellence.

Safety, Trust, Integrity

At Hill International, our mission is to grow a global team of technical experts who consistently exceed expectations through collaboration,” says Saïd. The company’s values are deeply rooted in key principles.

  • Expertise: Hill International boasts a globally recognized team of industry leaders. Saïd emphasizes, “Our experts ensure that every project is delivered as planned, showcasing our commitment to excellence.”
  • Innovation: The company embraces innovation, constantly identifying cutting-edge tools and technologies. According to Saïd, “Innovation is integral to our approach, helping us plan, manage and control projects more effectively.”
  • Safety & Security: From start to finish, safety is paramount. Saïd notes, “Our commitment to safety ensures that every decision prioritizes the well-being of the team, the job, our partners, and the firm.”
  • Trusted Partnerships: Building strong relationships is a cornerstone. Saïd highlights, “We create a culture of support, where all stakeholders focus on one goaldelivering a successful project.”
  • Integrity: Hill International acts with honesty and integrity. Saïd emphasizes, “We take pride in our fair and ethical treatment of partners and employees, ensuring trust is at the core of our interactions.”
  • Inclusivity: The company is dedicated to giving everyone the opportunity to succeed. Saïd states, “We are proud to be a company that brings people together and celebrates diversity, fostering an inclusive environment for all.”

Hill International’s mission and values underscore a commitment to excellence, innovation, safety, trust, integrity, and inclusivity, making it a dynamic force in the global realm of project management and development.

The Essence of Success

Saïd’s mantra in real estate development encapsulates a timeless wisdom, “For every aspectPlan, Plan, Plan.” He asserts, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” This succinct philosophy reflects the essence of his approach to every facet of real estate. It resonates not only with industry professionals but also with anyone seeking success in their endeavors. Saïd’s emphasis on meticulous planning underscores the importance of foresight and preparation making it a guiding principle for navigating the dynamic landscape of real estate development.

Tech Talks

Saïd, reflecting on the transformative changes in real estate development, notes, “No doubt that technology in designing and constructing real estate projects has evolved over the last 20 years.” He highlights the impact of intense research and development across design, project management software, equipment optimization, and the quality of environmentally friendly materials. According to Saïd, this evolution aims to achieve ‘sustainable, energy-efficient and even net-zero buildings.’

The ongoing advancements in technology have played a pivotal role in enhancing the reliability of building management systems. Saïd emphasizes, “We will see more advancements with AI technology in the near future.” This insight focuses on the imminent role of artificial intelligence in shaping the future of real estate development.

It appeals to everyone to take a stance by offering a glimpse into the dynamic landscape of technological evolution within the industry. For novices, it provides an understanding of the strides made in recent decades, while seasoned professionals find inspiration in the anticipation of further innovations, making it a compelling read for all.

Health, Safety, Environment

Saïd envisions a proactive approach to elevate standards in real estate development, stating, “If I had the chance, I would like to impose more stringent health and safety and environmental (HSE) policies.” He advocates for a certification process akin to ISO certification ensuring adherence to robust HSE policies.

Saïd’s proposal aims to foster a culture of accountability emphasizing the importance of safeguarding not only the well-being of workers but also the environmental impact of development projects. This perspective urges a collective commitment to higher standards in the industry. It serves as a call to action, encouraging stakeholders to prioritize health, safety and environmental sustainability in real estate endeavors.

Sustainable Skylines

Saïd, with foresight into the future of real estate development, predicts, “I foresee governments in developed countries followed by developing countries passing legislation.” His vision entails a legislative push for stringent policies, compelling real estate projects to adopt renewable energy, achieve net-zero power and water usage and produce zero carbon emissions.

Saïd’s perspective aligns with the global imperative to address climate change and mitigate environmental disasters. This outlook serves as a clarion call for collective action, emphasizing the pivotal role legislation can play in steering the industry towards a greener and more sustainable future.

A Visionary Path

Looking ahead, Saïd envisions a pivotal role for himself, stating, “In 5 years, I envisage myself being an advisor to The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) for obvious reasons.” His aspiration reflects a desire to contribute his wealth of experience and expertise on a global scale. This succinct statement offers a glimpse into Saïd’s forward-looking ambitions and the potential impact of his insights on international project services.

Learning from the Best

Saïd, drawing from his wealth of experience, offers a crucial piece of advice to aspiring entrepreneurs entering the realm of real estate development, “Discuss your plans with expert consultants with proven experience and expertise.” He underscores the importance of seeking guidance from those who have navigated the complexities of the field successfully.

Avoid following the approach, methodology and strategy of fellow entrepreneurs without a track record,” Saïd cautions, noting that some may not disclose setbacks that cost time, money and compromise project quality.

This counsel serves as a compass for budding developers, emphasizing the significance of informed decisions and learning from the experiences of seasoned professionals. It resonates across diverse audiences from newcomers in the industry to seasoned entrepreneurs offering a valuable perspective on the path to success in real estate development.